AgForce Water Committee Chair Kim Bremner, who has a property at Bowenville just outside Dalby, has been experimenting with how the internet can help him on-farm for more than a decade.
While some initiatives have come and gone, he is now reaping rewards with his investment into automatic irrigation, all without updating a single piece of his existing farm machinery.
“In 2008, with the help of our internet satellite provider, we were able to set up long-range Wi-Fi on the farm as a trial,” Kim said.
“Using pan and zoom cameras, my daughter was able to view the farm pump from her house on the other side of the world in England.
“Then Kevin Rudd announced the NBN, and this destroyed all the local community internet service providers (ISP)’s, who packed up and went and did other things because the NBN was going to take over.
“At that time, we still had our two overhead irrigators (installed in 2006 and 2007) connected to our computer via a mobile phone sim card and an American-based server.
“We were able to monitor the pressure, speed and position of the overhead irrigators.
From then until 2016 Kim struggled with automation on his property because of limited data from various mobile broadband providers, whose plans were extremely limited in data quantity, and provided patchy speed and poor connectivity.
Then in 2016, a new ISP established themselves in Dalby and started supplying high-frequency Wi-Fi to customers in the area using a fibre connection.
“I was one of the first to sign up,” Kim said.
“Since then the speed of the connection has doubled.”
With his current set-up, on one farm Kim can monitor two channels and two sumps using a simple sim card, while on his other farm he is able to monitor two creek levels and two storage levels. He is also able to stop and start three electric motors and pumps.
All of the monitoring is done remotely, from either his smartphone, tablet or computer.
Kim also has seven tractors that will drive in a straight line using GPS with an accuracy of 2.5cm at 15 kph. His provider is looking at solutions to guide his overhead irrigators using the same type of GPS technology that’s in the tractors.
“Eventually I’d like to spread the use of Wi-Fi to the entire farm,” Kim said.
“Our fully installed automatic irrigation system allows us to use this precision technology to monitor and apply the exact amount of water needed, and has been a boon in terms of productivity and increasing our yields.”